The venerable Food & Wine last ran a cafe round-up in 2008, and frankly, not much has changed for their 2012 list of Great Cafes in America. The list has doubled in size, which speaks volumes for great cafes that have come up in the last four years, but there’s still some odd ducks and darn questionable omissions, but moreover it gets at this kind of “media-that-writes-about-media” conundrum for your trusty Sprudge Editors. That’s why we’re going to 1. snark and make fun of this list, and 2. advise you (and the editors at Food & Wine, who are no doubt reading this over a nice glace of Chablis) to completely ignore everything we say.

Requisite geek coffee blog snark:

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Pbbt. Espressamente Illy must’ve struck F&W as “authentico”. Cafe Triest? We’ll give you its historical gravitas, but have you actually set foot in there recently? The atmosphere is hellish, dimly lit in strange spots, sticky floors, pockets of body odor, questionable pastries, deplorable powder room, and coffee that we’ll charitably describe as drinkable. Tut, tut.

And now, a sincere caveat:

Food & Wine, don’t listen to us. It’s great you make lists like this. It’s good for cafe culture.  There’s some weird choices on your list, but some clutch choices as well, especially Cafe Du Monde, because oh man, the only one on the list to proudly serve low-quality chicory coffee, but my god, it’s so amazing.

Anyway, here’s the list from four years ago:


  1. Joe the Art of Coffee; NYC
  2. Gimme! Coffee; Ithaca, NY
  3. Blue Bottle Café; San Francisco
  4. Stumptown Coffee Roasters; Portland, OR
  5. Lamill Coffee Boutique; Los Angeles
  6. Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea; Chicago
  7. Bloc 11 Cafe; Somerville, MA
  8. Abraço; NYC
  9. 3Cups: Wine, Coffee, Tea Merchants; Chapel Hill, NC
  10. Coffee Slingers; Oklahoma City

And the list for 2012:

  1. Abraço; New York, NY
  2. Alterra Coffee; Milwaukee, WI
  3. Blue Bottle; Oakland, CA
  4. Caffe Driade; Chapel Hill, NC
  5. Café Du Monde; New Orleans, LA
  6. Cafe Grumpy; Brooklyn, NY
  7. Caffe Trieste; San Francisco, CA
  8. Cartel Coffee Lab; Tempe, AZ
  9. Coffee Slingers; Oklahoma City, OK
  10. Coffeehouse Northwest; Portland, OR
  11. Dose Coffee and Tea; Nashville, TN
  12. Espressamente illy at the Palazzo; Las Vegas, NV
  13. Houndstooth Coffee; Austin, TX
  14. Intelligentsia; Los Angeles, CA
  15. Kaldi’s; Clayton, MO
  16. La Colombe Torrefaction; Philadelphia, PA
  17. La Mill; Los Angeles, CA
  18. Madcap Coffee Company; Grand Rapids, MI
  19. Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge; Atlanta, GA
  20. Pavement; Boston, MA
  21. Peregrine Espresso; Washington, DC
  22. Progress Coffee; Austin, TX
  23. Star Lounge Café; Chicago, IL
  24. Stumptown; Portland, OR
  25. Victrola Coffee Roasters; Seattle, WA
  26. The Wormhole; Chicago, IL

We went through all the trouble of listing them like this so you don’t have to go through the Food & Wine’s pop-up slideshow nightmare. If you really want, though, I mean, there’s a list of Coffee Drinks you could check out, including a Chocolate-Raspberry Truffletini. I mean, right?

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